It was a slooow paced Friday morning, which was especially nice after the cold, windy, & intense visit with Street Church last night. TheBean was still trying to shake the cold from her toes over our late breakfast/coffee routine this morning… which probably led to drinking waaay too much coffee… which led to the jitters later for her.
There is a pastoral transition happening at CFA; the founding pastor, Ewald Zelmer, is transitioning to lead missions to the ‘stans on behalf of Germany, for pastoral training, opening new territories to the Gospel, & maintaining new/long established relationships. He truly is an apostolic leader – a ‘sent one’ that establishes, builds, maintains, & ‘exports’ the Gospel in new locations within nations, people groups, cultures, & language-groups. He is so filled with joy & is also such a fierce person in prayer (in the best sense of the word.) He & his wife Kerstin have pastored CFA as long as we’ve been at Hillside, beginning in the same year (2000).
The new pastor couple at CFA is Toby & Ginny Huyssen – he’s from the US by way of the Philippines by way of Germany (his mom, Gisele, pastors in Frickenhausen – yes, that’s a real place.) Ginny is a Filipina as well & they are in their late 30’s, very charismatic & full of joy, & they love to worship & to lead people into worship. Anna Marie took us to their place & we spent a little time connecting at the lunch table while the food finished, while listening to their kids Zach 11 & Erica 9, entertain us with the happenings of their lives & Zach’s regular interjection of his best imitation of “Murica.”
Lunch was lumpia, vegetables, fried tofu, & some incredible, ginger-based sauces to season the food with & dip the lumpia into. So good. The table was full of talk about life, family, origin stories, pastoral life & transitions, & navigating God’s call on our lives in changing & varied contexts. Toby is a very different pastor/leader than Ewald, but I have a sense he is going to do very well at leading the church in their next phase of life together. CFA is a church of & to the nations, with approximately 15+ nations making up the people of the congregation. They are truly learning to BE the united church around Jesus, not national identity, culture of origin, personal preferences, &/or language.
Tonight is a Worship Night Toby & Ginny are leading at CFA, so we departed & made our way back to Anna Marie’s flat to get some rest. We were out shortly after our heads hit the pillow & both took a good 45-60 minute nap in advance of the evening happenings.
We made our way to CFA (about 200 meters away down the street) & theBean found the cafeteria, where the worship team was eating a preservice meal of lasagna, which she was overjoyed to jump in on; it’s a favorite. Talked with some friends (new & old) at the table, then went upstairs to the sanctuary as the worship night began.
The focus for the night was worship with times of prayer for the youth of the church, city, & Germany (from what I could tell.) Toby & Ginny led a team of 8 or so excellent musicians & it was obvious from the beginning that this is an area of great skill, gifting, & calling for them. About half the songs were in English & 90% were recognizable, even the German translation songs, so it was simple to jump in & worship along with those in attendance. It was a glimpse of heaven, with a selection of people from many tribes, tongues, & nations gathered together singing, literally, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb” or some variation of that in their mother tongues.
Worship, prayer, & celebration lasted from about 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm & people hung out & talked until 10. We did our best to connect over conversations & I got to talk in English with two young guys, about 25, from Pakistan & Syria. They learned their English from Looney Tunes Cartoons, & had all sorts of questions about cartoons & other American language sources, like rap, music videos, IG, TikTok, & YouTube.
They both shared, in their own way, their testimonies of Jesus’ ‘rescue’ of them, how He brought them from being “lost & broken” & how He was making them whole. Precious young men who were excited to flex their English vocabulary & at the same time talk about their Jesus.
By the time we made it to Anna Marie’s we were tired, but we took an hour or so to talk & debrief about the night, sharing our perspectives, & also hearing hers as someone who is firmly inside the church. Headed to bed at 11:15 & read a bit before crashing hard.
What a great day with great food & an incredible night of worship. Thank you Jesus.